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Episode Info: In my last article, I wrote about ways that we can get to know our students in virtual and hybrid courses. I also did a webinar on building a community online. You can watch it on replay here. One of the best ways to build relationships is through frequent one-on-one check-ins. In this article, we explore ideas for how to make the most out of these quick check-ins so that students feel known and understood, even when they are working at a distance. Listen to the Podcast If you enjoy this blog but you’d like to listen to it on the go, just click on the audio below or subscribe via  Apple Podcasts (ideal for iOS users) on Stitcher (ideal for Android users), on Amazon Podcasts, or on Spotify.  The Power of a Check-In During the pandemic, many students described feeling lonely and isolated as they shifted into online environments. So much of the classroom experience is designed around face-to-face experiences. However, without the in-person interaction, students often felt like they were no longer connected. In some cases, students began to check out. This isn’t surprising. Over two decades ago, researchers Anderson and Garrison demonstrated that success in an online course depended on the relationship between the student and the content, the student and the instructor, and the student and classmates. When students fail to connect with their instructor or with their classmates, they disengage. This disengagement results in lower attendance, lower assignment completion, and lower achievement. In other words, by every metric imaginable, students learn less and perform worse when they aren’t connecting with others. On a more human level, students need to connect relationally to their classmates and their teacher. When schools shift to remote learning courses, certain students who would normally do well in person end up struggling to manage their time and get started on their learning. They get distracted and fail to develop deep work habits that can lead to success. Here, students might even fail to show up to class video conferences or respond to emails. They turn in work significantly late and at a lower quality than they would if they were in a physical classroom. Without the teacher present and the reminder of accountability, these students disengage. In other words, they fail to connect with the content, with their classmates, and with the teacher. However, distance learning doesn’t mean we have to be distant on a relational or social level. As teachers, we can be intentional about creating a sense of presence with our students through short check-ins. These check-ins might focus on social-emotional elements, such as wellness, emotional status, and social connected-ness. This type of check-in can be as simple as a “How are you doing right now?” or “How are you doing with distance learning?” It might even begin with a short conversation about a student...
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